Wilson Center for Science and Justice at Duke Law

Advancing criminal justice reform and civil rights through interdisciplinary research

Operating as usual


Out today! Our latest policy brief: The Aging Prison Population and Dementia: Best Practices for Care and Release.

The number of incarcerated seniors has tripled in the last 20 years, and that number is only expected to grow. By 2030, U.S. prisons will incarcerate 400,000 seniors – 1/3 of the total prison population. Estimates vary but more than half of incarcerated seniors may develop dementia by that point. Incarcerated people are at a greater risk for developing cognitive impairment and dementia than the wider community, so it is critical we implement policies that address the needs of older adults in prison.

Today the Wilson Center releases a report that makes recommendations on best practices for care and screening of incarcerated people with dementia as well as for their medical release. Learn more on our website: https://wcsj.law.duke.edu/news/new-report-dementia-and-the-aging-prison-population/

Liberty, Safety, and Misdemeanor Bail | Published in Florida Law Review 05/29/2024

New scholarship on bail reform finds that misdemeanor bail safeguards liberty AND benefits public safety. In Harris County, post-bail reform, more people arrested for misdemeanors are released promptly without requiring cash bail, and both arrests and rearrests have steadily declined.

Our Faculty Director, Brandon Garrett, is the Independent Monitor for the Harris County v. ODonnell Consent Decree on Misdemeanor Bail Reform. He and the rest of the Monitorship Team -- Sandra Guerra Thompson, Dottie Carmichael, David Shi, and Songman Kang describe their findings over the first three years of the Monitorship in the latest for the Florida Law Review: "Liberty, Safety, and Misdemeanor Bail."

Liberty, Safety, and Misdemeanor Bail | Published in Florida Law Review By Brandon L. Garrett, Sandra Guerra Thompson & 3 more. There is no necessary trade-off between constitutional rights and public safety


Today marks four years since George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin. His murder and the police killings of others such as Breonna Taylor sparked a wave of protests and calls for change with regard to policing and institutional and systemic racism more broadly. As we remember George Floyd today, we renew our commitment to working to improve equity in the criminal legal system, including improving policing policies and practices.

This semester, we hosted two panel events on policing and police accountability. In the first, academics and advocates, including Emancipate NC's Dawn Blagrove, Duke Sociology's Tony Cheng, and UCLA Law's Joanna Schwartz discussed ways to improve police accountability in our communities with moderator Duke Law Professor Ben Grunwald. ICYMI, you can watch that panel at https://youtu.be/J9Zt9_VKKr8?si=H0UvktLrfikB1sgW.

We also co-hosted an event with Duke Sociology on policing, race and violence with Tony Cheng, University of Minnesota's Michelle Phelps, and University of Texas at Austin's Michael Sierra- Arévalo in a panel moderated by NC State's Andrea Leverentz. You can watch that panel here: https://youtu.be/KqOcem01i-0.

Photos from Wilson Center for Science and Justice at Duke Law's post 05/24/2024

Please join us in welcoming our Summer 2024 intern cohort who just finished their first week with us! We are so excited to have rising Duke Law School 2Ls Hadassah Terry and Olive Roerich working with us this summer along with Master of Arts in Bioethics and Science Policy Reagan McRae. Joining them are also part-time remote interns, Duke Medical Student Sophia Kocher, rising Duke senior Abby Lee, and rising Duke junior Samantha Richter.

Our interns will be working on a variety of projects this summer including an amicus brief, research on felony murder and juveniles, historical clemency in North Carolina, assessments of North Carolina forensic science, and more.

In addition to their research, our interns will get a chance to hear from guest speakers in the criminal legal system as well as gain experiences such as court watching and a visit to Central Prison.

There are even some opportunities for social activities like this week's potato printing workshop, courtesy of Duke Arts. Welcome to all our Wilson Center Interns! We're so excited to have you.

Photos from OurJourney's post 05/23/2024
Timeline photos 05/22/2024

New Scholarship! Out this week from Faculty Director Brandon Garrett, Eric Tucker (Duke Law School '22 and former Research Assistant with the Wilson Center and former Student Fellow with the Bolch Judicial Institute at Duke Law), and Prof. Nicoloas Scurich of UCI School of Social Ecology: "Judging Fi****ms Evidence" in the Southern California Law Review. https://southerncalifornialawreview.com/2024/05/14/judging-fi****ms-evidence/.

For over a hundred years, fi****ms examiners have testified that they can conclusively identify the source of a bullet or cartridge case. In recent years, however, research scientists have called into question the validity and reliability of such testimony. In this article Garrett, Tucker and Scurich detail over a century of case law and examine how judges have engaged with the changing practice and scientific understanding of fi****ms comparison evidence. The more-than-a-century-long arc of judicial review of fi****ms evidence in the United States suggests that, over time, scientific research can displace tradition and precedent to improve the quality of justice.


Please join us in welcoming Visiting Scholar Dr. Rachel Greenspan! Dr. Greenspan is an Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice and Legal Studies at The University of Mississippi - Ole Miss. She received a National Science Foundation (NSF) EPSCoR (Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) Research Fellowship to join us in residence here at the Wilson Center for Summer 2024 and 2025. While here, she will be collaborating with us on our plea bargaining work and other projects at the intersection of social science and the law.

Dr. Greenspan received her Ph.D. in Psychology and Social Behavior from the University of California, Irvine and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School. Dr. Greenspan's research interests focus on the intersection of psychology, criminal justice, and the law. She uses a multi-method, interdisciplinary approach to study topics including the development and downstream consequences of misinformation, eyewitness identifications, and police interrogations. Her work has been published in outlets including Psychological Science, Law and Human Behavior, and the Journal of Experimental Criminology and has been funded by the National Science Foundation and American Psychology-Law Society.

We're excited to have you as a summer Blue Devil, Dr. Greenspan!

The Right to a Glass Box: Rethinking the Use of Artificial Intelligence in Criminal Justice – Cornell Law Review 05/20/2024

New from Faculty Director and Duke Law School Professor Brandon Garrett and Duke Computer Science Professor Cynthia Rudin in the Cornell Law Review: "The Right to a Glass Box: Rethinking the Use of Artificial Intelligence in Criminal Justice."

The use of AI is growing, but too often, developers design AI programs that are too complex to understand or that hide the way they function. And both critics and proponents often think that this "black box" design is necessary. But Garrett and Rudin examine that claim and show that "glass box" design, which is more interpretable, actually performs better. Read the full piece at the Cornell Law Review website:

The Right to a Glass Box: Rethinking the Use of Artificial Intelligence in Criminal Justice – Cornell Law Review Volume 109, Issue 3 Article The Right to a Glass Box: Rethinking the Use of Artificial Intelligence in Criminal Justice Brandon L. Garrett & Cynthia Rudin L. Neil Williams, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Law, Duke University School of Law and Faculty Director, Wilson Center for Science and Justice,....

Photos from Wilson Center for Science and Justice at Duke Law's post 05/17/2024

Last month, Wilson Center staff traveled to Houston and Dallas. In Houston, Collin Cox, Chair of the Duke Law Board of Visitors and partner at Gibson Dunn, hosted a reception and panel discussion on bail reform in Harris County. Faculty Director Brandon Garrett, Sandra Guerra Thompson (Deputy Monitor), and Hunter Albritton (Duke Law School ’21 and former Wilson Center Research Assistant) spoke about their work serving as court-appointed monitors as well as the work of the Wilson Center. Brandon Garrett and Sandra Guerra Thompson also spoke at a community meeting in Houston about the work of the monitorship. Check out more about their work on bail reform on our website: https://wcsj.law.duke.edu/news/seventh-houston-bail-monitor-report/.

In Dallas, Wilson Center Advisory Board Chair Derek Wilson and the Wilson Foundation hosted a reception to highlight the Foundation’s support of the Center and the work the Center does for criminal justice reform.

Photos from Wilson Center for Science and Justice at Duke Law's post 05/16/2024

🎓 Congratulations to all our students who graduated this past weekend! Our student research assistants received law degrees, bachelor's degrees and master's degrees from Duke Law School, Duke University's Trinity College of Arts and Sciences, and the Sanford School of Public Policy. Many of the law students we worked with also received their Public Interest and Public Service Certificate. We're so proud of all of you and grateful for your work with us. We can't wait to see where you go next!


Our wonderful friends at the Wilson Center for Science and Justice at Duke Law are studying reentry across NC and want to speak with some individuals who have been released to certain counties from a state correctional facility in the last 6-24 months.
If you qualify and participate, they'll pay you $50 for a one-hour virtual interview!
To find out if you qualify, scan the QR code below or click on the link in the Comments section.
Everyone else, please help us spread the word by sharing this post. Thanks!


Tomorrow! Join us at 3pm ET for a virtual screening of ’s “Fractured,” by , based on the investigative series by Dana Miller Ervin for . The screening will be followed by a panel discussion.

This 30 minute film explores the plight of defendants with serious mental illness who are found incapable to proceed to trial on criminal charges. They can wait for over a year for the care they need just so their cases can move forward. The film reveals how the failures of our mental health system affect the most vulnerable and its implications for everyone who needs care.

Featured speakers include Durwin Briscoe, Dr. Robert Cochrane, Dana Miller Ervin, and Debra Pinals, moderated by Wilson Center Faculty Member and Professor Marvin Swartz.

Learn more and register for the virtual screening and discussion at duke.is/fractured!


We hosted a roundtable discussion yesterday at the Wilson Center for Science and Justice at Duke Law with formerly incarcerated community leaders (including one from Virginia), two OurJourney board members and other reentry experts to discuss two topics:
1. Executive Order 303, signed by Governor Cooper in January, which prioritizes reentry support across all departments of state government
2. The need for an online dashboard for connecting returning citizens with formerly incarcerated "ambassadors" in the returning citizens county, regardless of which of NC's 100 counties they return to
From left to right: Jesse Crosson - Second Chancer; Irene Lawrence, DAC; Jake Sussman, Southern Coalition for Social Justice and OurJourney board member; Dr. Craig Waleed, Disability Rights NC; Greg Singleton, DAC consultant; Timothy Downs, Workforce Development; Ben Finholt, the Wilson Center and OurJourney board member; Rudolph Wick, Jumpstart; Brian Scott, OurJourney. (Not pictured: Kristie Puckett, Forward Justice.)


Happening Monday! Join the Government and Public Service Society, Inclusive Juries Project, , and us for a screening and discussion of Abby Ginzberg’s “Judging Juries,” a short film that examines the lack of jury pool diversity and barriers to jury service for low-income people and people of color. Duke Law Inclusive Juries Project Director Emily Coward will moderate a 30-min conversation immediately after the screening exploring the issues highlighted by the film. NC Supreme Court Justice Anita Earls, Durham District Attorney Satana Deberry, Wake County Chief Public Defender Deonte Thomas will join this conversation as featured panelists. Register at duke.is/judgingjuries!


Next week! Join us for an exciting conversation with Professors Tony Cheng, Michael Sierra-Arévalo, Ph.D., and Michelle S. Phelps. Co-sponsored with .

The onset of the Era has opened scrutiny over what exactly should be police’s goals and responsibilities in today’s society. Can the police be trusted guardians of security and justice simultaneously? What are the pathways toward institutional change, whatever that may look like? And how are police departments themselves strategically navigating these efforts? Our panelists, authors of three new books on the topic, will engage these questions in a conversation moderated by Andrea Leverentz.

Photos from Wilson Center for Science and Justice at Duke Law's post 02/29/2024

“The system says that things aren’t possible, but through organizing and collective action, we see they are possible.“ — today in our Novel Justice event about her book, Radical Acts of Justice: How Ordinary People are Dismantling Mass Incarcertation, out now by .

After the event, Prof. Simonson met with students of the clinic to delve further into issues of mass incarceration and criminal defense. Thanks, Prof. Simonson for a wonderful talk and for sharing your experiences with our students!


“The system says that things aren’t possible, but through organizing and collective action, we see they are possible.“ — today in our Novel Justice event about her book, Radical Acts of Justice: How Ordinary People are Dismantling Mass Incarcertation, out now by .


Join us for an exciting talk with Jocelyn Simonson on her book: Radical Acts of Justice: How Ordinary People Are Dismantling Mass Incarceration.

Jocelyn Simonson is a Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School. Simonson’s scholarship explores bottom-up interventions in the criminal legal system, such as bail funds, copwatching, courtwatching, and participatory defense, asking how these real-life interventions should inform our conceptions of the design of criminal justice institutions, the discourse of constitutional rights, and the meaning of democratic justice.

Join us for a discussion and Q&A moderated by Professor Brandon Garrett. Lunch will be provided, and books will be available for sale.

Photos from Wilson Center for Science and Justice at Duke Law's post 02/16/2024

We were so grateful to have our advisory board member, Rebecca Brown, in town this week! Rebecca is the Director of Maat Strategies and prior to that role, she worked as the Director of Policy for the . She spoke to our JustScience Lab Research Assistants about her work on policy campaigns, including a campaign in Kansas to pass a bill granting compensation to people wrongfully convicted. Thanks for sharing your experience and wisdom, Rebecca!


Join us for a panel discussion on police accountability. The recent high-profile murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others have brought renewed attention to the dangers of police misconduct and the resulting harm to Black and Brown people and communities, in particular. How do we ensure public safety for all, including those harmed by or at risk of harm by police misconduct? And how can we effectively hold police accountable for that misconduct?

This panel, moderated by Professor Ben Grunwald of will feature:

-Dawn Blagrove, Executive Director of .nc
-Tony Cheng, , Author of The Policing Machine: Enforcement, Endorsements, and the Illusion of Public Input
-Joanna Schwartz, , Author of Shielded, How the Police Became Untouchable

RSVP at duke.is/policingpanel or the link in our bio!

Sponsored by the Wilson Center for Science and Justice,.nc, , and .

Photos from Wilson Center for Science and Justice at Duke Law's post 02/08/2024

We were so honored to cohost Judging Forensic Science, a recent conference with the Bolch Judicial Institute at Duke Law! As part of that conference, Judge Nancy Gertner, now professor of the practice at Harvard Law School, and Judge Jed Rakoff shared their perspectives on the future of forensic evidence in a conversation moderated by Professor Brandon Garrett. In case you missed it, watch the conversation our YouTube page (link in bio)!

Photos from Wilson Center for Science and Justice at Duke Law's post 01/27/2024

We’re having a great day at our Medicaid Enrollment event and Resource Fair! Many thanks to all our partners — Legal Aid of North Carolina, NC Navigator, OurJourney, StepUp Durham, NC Department of Health and Human Services, Morse Clinic of Durham, PC, Alliance Health, Durham County Government Health Deparrment, Durham Treatment Center, and the NC Harm Reduction Coalirion for making it a great event!

We’re here until 2pm today if you still want to stop by and enroll in Medicaid and learn about housing, employment, healthcare, and reentry resources in our community! 1121 W Chapel Hill Street, Suite 201, Durham.


Join us on Monday, February 5th for our latest Novel Justice event with Kristin Henning, author of The Rage of Innocence: How America Criminalizes Black Youth. Professor Crystal Grant, Director of the Children’s Law Clinic, will moderate. Lunch will be provided!

Kristin Henning is the Blume Professor of Law and Director of the Juvenile Justice Clinic and Initiative at Georgetown Law. Professor Henning previously worked for the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, where she helped organize and served as Lead Attorney for the Juvenile Unit, designed to meet the multi-disciplinary needs of children in the juvenile legal system.


Medicaid has expanded in North Carolina and you may qualify now! The Wilson Center for Science and Justice, LegalAid of NC, and partners across the Triangle are hosting a Medicaid enrollment and resource fair where you can sign up. Join us on Saturday, January 27 from 10am – 2pm for help enrolling, learn about other resources, and sign up for raffled prizes!

RSVP at duke.is/medicaidfair and learn more at https://wcsj.law.duke.edu/news/medicaidfair/


Attention and students! Are you looking for a summer internship? Join us next Monday for our Summer Internship Information Session!

Date: Monday, January 22
Time: 12:30pm
Location: Law School 4055

Lunch will be provided!

The Wilson Center’s mission is to advance criminal justice and equity through law and science. We engage in interdisciplinary legal, research, and policy reform efforts across three focus areas: accuracy of evidence, equity in criminal outcomes, and behavioral health. You can read more about our work on our website: https://wcsj.law.duke.edu/.


Come join us in Durham on January 27 for the Medicaid Enrollment & Resource Fair!
OurJourney is partnering with the Wilson Center for Science and Justice at Duke Law and Legal Aid of North Carolina to bring awareness to Medicaid Expansion. Those who qualify can enroll in Medicaid at the event, and we'll also have plenty of resource information available, plus raffle prizes!
Attendance is free. You can register for this event by clicking on the link below or in the Comments section. You can also scan the QR code with your phone to register.

Photos from Wilson Center for Science and Justice at Duke Law's post 12/05/2023

As we close out the semester, our JustScience Lab students gathered to share their work over the past semester. Our students have been working on projects related to police legislation, custodial interrogations, reentry, involuntary commitment and more. Thanks to all of our students for a great semester!

Want your school to be the top-listed School/college in Durham?

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Today marks #wrongfulconvictionday. We hosted Raymond Santana and Yusef Salaam, members of the Exonerated Five, at @duke...



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